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News Article

Electric Public Transportation May Be Decades Away

By Alfonso Núñez | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 09:40

While electric automobility is transforming Mexican transportation, lack of communication with local authorities is delaying it implementation, warned the president of Mexican Association of Transport and Mobility (AMTM). At this rate, it will take 15 to 20 years for even half of the country’s public transportation to be electric.

 

During an appearance at the Sustainable Urban Mobility Congress meeting of 2021 (SUM Bio 21) held in Bilboa on October 6-7, Jesús Padilla Zenteno, President and Founder, AMTM, said that a lack of fiscal policy backing electrification would delay the transformation. Zenteno claimed that there is something inherently taboo about bringing up tariffs and subsidies with Mexican authorities, preventing what otherwise would be productive conversations.

 

“It seems like an insult whenever the franchised operator speaks to an authority about subsidies,” Zenteno said.

 

Zenteno’s claims come at a surprising time, considering that less than two weeks later, 10 first-of-their-kind electric buses would be delivered to Mexico City by the Chinese commercial vehicle manufacturing company Yutong. This delivery allowed for the debut of first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) not only in Mexico but the world. The BRT is made up of 18-meter mass-produced electric buses. After the debut, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said she expects Mexico City to see the largest investment in electromobility in Latin America.

 

Despite this seemingly remarkable progress, this is not the first time Zenteno publicly opened up about the issues plaguing the public transportation sector. During the First National Forum of Mobile Authorities held in late September, Zenteno forewarned that the desired move towards electric public transportation across the country was not realistic without an increase in interest and investment by Mexican authorities.

 

“If the authorities are not willing to invest in the modernization of public transport, to propose competitive tariffs and to grant subsidies, then we should adjust the aspirations related to the mobility in the country,” Zenteno said.

 

Mexico aims to become a leader in electric automobility not just in Latin America but in the world, as stated by Sheinbaum, prompting several advances. For example, OEM Scania collaborated with Mexican auto body manufacturer Beccar to produce the Volt and E-Urviabus, two 100 percent electronic buses set to hit the Mexican market in 2022.

 

The lack of support claimed by Zenteno could explain other issues within the electronic mobility transformation of the country. One such glaring issue being the nation coming in last out of 16 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean in a report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) measuring electric mobility in each country.

 

Electric automobility is the future of transportation and Mexico does not wish to be left behind. Advancements in the introduction of electronic vehicles have made headlines throughout the year, but the true impact of the transformation of public transportation in the country will be determined how many Mexicans are able to incorporate this technology into their everyday mobility—be it in twenty years or less.

Photo by:   Unsplash, Nathalia Segato
Alfonso Núñez Alfonso Núñez Journalist & Industry Analyst